I like closure just as much as I like boundaries. I also enjoy order and organization and experience minor bouts of frustration and anxiety when my expectations aren’t met.  I hate not finishing anything, but it’s been a few weeks – months now? – since I’ve picked up Yell Less, Love More or How to Deal with Your Strong-Willed Child; and quite frankly, I haven’t felt like I needed to. So I’m not going to finish the parenting books I’ve started reading. WHAAAT!?!

You see, life never happens the way we expect it to. It took me 30 years to learn that, which, when you think about, makes sense. And the unexpected, non-sequential path of my life has me laying aside unfinished parenting books and picking up another topic with which to feed my mind: pregnancy.


Before I go on, however, I must rewind and quickly catch you up on how non-sequential my life has been. (Now, if you have been reading my blog or have followed me on Facebook, you might already know that I spent six years of my life in Taiwan after college.)

It all began the summer of 2015. I was home for a visit from Taiwan. I was scheduled to fly back to my lovely overseas life in August and start down the path of pursuing my Master’s degree. I never flew back to Taiwan. I’m still here, in fact.

After that drastic change of plans, I sought out therapy, which many do these days in the midst of crisis or life trauma. I started job-hunting, which made me immediately miss the easy work situation in Taiwan for native English speakers. And I re-learned how to live under the same roof as my parents. (It had been ten years.)

I was pathetically dependent on my parents for finances at the very beginning, which I hated, but I kept track of every penny I borrowed and paid it all back by the end of the winter of 2017.

Meanwhile, I had graduated from my therapy sessions and was ready to step out on my own. I was in American now, not Taiwan. Things were different. Coping with homesickness and culture shock and lack of closure with my family in Taiwan made things difficult; but in true fashion, it wasn’t long before I had filled up my time.

I had landed a job as a teacher, which kept me immensely busy throughout the week. I enrolled in a mountaineering class, so I could learn to climb the mountains of beautiful Washington State and meet other people who loved the mountains, too. I pulled back from church involvement. (Again, in true fashion, I had jumped in head first to help out and fill holes; but I was in a unique time of life – after a life of chronic ministry involvement – where I realized I actually didn’t HAVE to do anything. It was freeing!) And, of course, I was running a race once a month with other running friends and training for a full marathon.

You could say I hit the ground running  (literally and metaphorically) once I committed to the idea of living in America.

But that’s just it. Living in America remained an idea until some rather permanent things began happening. 

At the very beginning of April, I got on TINDER. (For those of you who may not know what this is, there’s google. For the rest of you, I had my reasons!) I’ve always been a loyal tinder-hater due to the bad wrap society gives it as well as the horror stories I hear from people using it. Well, I was on spring break when April started, so I actually had time to flip through and read the articles my iPhone likes to suggest on a daily basis. One of them happened to be about Tinder success stories. It was a positive spin on this dating app that I’d been hating on for pretty legitimate reasons. Come on, it’s basically a hook-up app!

Well, Tinder is free, and I like that, and I had already done my free trial on and was not interested in paying a dime – let alone a dollar – to meet a guy. I was interested in meeting people but didn’t believe in subscriptions. So I started swiping right if liked the guy and swiping left if I didn’t. All you see are pictures the person made available and whatever blurb he decided to write about himself. These blurb bios were anything from “Call me ;)” to paragraphs about interests, personalities and work lives. “Matches” occurred when two people mutually swiped right on the other’s profile. I made sure the age-range and distance radius in my settings were appropriate. If something did happen, I wanted the guy to be relatively close in distance and age.

Being on Tinder was kind of a joke, and after a day or two of swiping and exchanging pointless words with my matches, I deleted it. The positive part of the whole arrangement was that no one will get my phone number without my permission and I can delete someone forever if I want to. Or delete the app altogether.

Don’t ask me why, but I decided to give it another chance a mere day later.
“Hi, Victoria! I saw ultimate frisbee and couldn’t help but swipe right!”

I had decided to mention personal interests in my own blurb, so anyone passing by on the Tinder train would know I liked running, hiking, and playing ultimate frisbee. Apparently, it worked, because those words began a conversation that has yet to end. And I don’t ever intend on terminating the life-long conversation I have begun with this man, who became my husband on September 10, 2016. 

Only a year earlier,  I had been faced with the proverbial “road not taken” and, “sorry I could not travel both,” made a rather difficult and life-altering decision. The life-altering part of that decision had just begun. 

As you can imagine, my time was no longer filled with mountain-climbing and running and late nights of lesson planning and grading. I was marriedNot only was I married, i was also a brand new step mom to my husband’s (then) 8-year-old daughter. Single life had ended; family life had begun.

Halloween 2017 is almost upon us. I will be 29 weeks pregnant this Friday. It’s been 2 years, 2 months, and 4 days since I was supposed to board an airplane back to Taiwan and start on the path of pursuing my master’s degree.  A lot has changed.

I’m not in Taiwan anymore, and it’s actually rather painful to admit I don’t know when I will be again. I’m living in little 2-bedroom apartment in the town of Snohomish, Washington, with my husband and step-daughter, expecting a baby girl to join us in January of 2018. 

So much for closure and boundaries. 

There you have it: why I’m laying aside the unfinished parenting books in exchange for pregnancy ones. The adventures never stop, but it’s like what Robert Frost wrote:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.




Personal Rewards System


I have this huge jar of “Chocolates of the World.” It was one of my Christmas presents. The serving size is 3 pieces, at 210 calories per serving. That’s right, I count calories.

These last two weeks, I was on “cleanse” diet, complete with fiber pills, probiotics, vitamins and and dietary restrictions which prevented me from indulging in any of my international chocolates. Now that those two weeks are over and the restrictions have been lifted, I can have as many chocolates as I want!   

Actually, I can’t. No, it’s not because I count calories. In fact, let’s scrap the term “calorie-counting” all together and apply this rule: “Burn more than you consume.” (That’s the motto of OolaFitness. Read more of my Oola thoughts here.)

Also, I LOVE chocolate. I enjoy every bite I take of some chocolatey substance. And the number one way to kill enjoyment is over-indulgence. Over-indulgence leads the way to addiction and impulsive behavior, and soon the very thing we once enjoyed is making us hate ourselves. This applies to a lot more than just chocolate.

Sound extreme? Well, over-indulgence is an extreme thing.

So here’s what I’ve set up for myself: a personal rewards system. These types of systems are practiced in all kinds of organizations, classrooms, and bureaucracies, so why can’t it work in my personal life?

Here’s what is:

(These rewards are given on a daily basis. No rollover allowed.)

  1. To-do list completed – one piece of chocolate
  2. To-do list + blog post written and published – two pieces of chocolate
  3. To-do list + blog post written and published + at least 1,000 calories burned during my work out – three pieces of chocolate.

Rewarding ourselves is key to personal motivation. Everyone responds to incentives. How are you going to reward yourself for what you’ve accomplished?



home sweet home


It’s the age-old interrogative sentence that haunts all of at some point, no matter how physically far away we are from “home.” And where is home exactly?

Today in social studies, I warned my students that after the lesson they were going to want to leave America and travel the world for the rest of their lives. (Most of them are  more or less convinced I am from Taiwan (like literally of Taiwan blood), and they were rather shocked when I explained that I actually had roots right here in Washington and am, in fact, FROM America.) 

My lesson took them through a running tour of Taiwan, Mongolia, North Korea, & South Korea. I inspired them with time-lapse videos, geography videos, pictures, and horizon-broadening facts about each country. (I could tell the diversity of my presentation had everyone captivated; that’s a win in the teaching world!)

For me, this was actually the first time I had taught anyone about Taiwan. For years, I have been teaching people about America and the confusing and varying customs of the West and have even walked fellow-foreigners through the process of moving to Taiwan from their home country.

At first I was overwhelmed; where do I start, what do I say? But then the researcher mentality of an educator settled over me,  and the lesson I gave my students made me crazy homesick. And happy at the same time.

It felt like every part of me was glowing with unexplainable feeling as I showed them my home city of Taipei, the forever-long changing of the guard at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and the video of my dragon boat team’s championship race. My students were immediately enraptured by the beauty and all the people, their fascination being expressed through words like, “It’s pretty!” “Coool!” “I wanna move there!” “I wanna go visit you!”


Mission accomplished. The seed of world travel and exploration and expat living PLANTED. 

I was simultaneously overjoyed to teach them about something so integral to my life and yet also so fiercely gripped with nostalgia. 

And the whole thing had me thinking…

6 years ago, I was torn to be so far away from all the marriage, birth, and even death that my friends in the States were experiencing. I wanted to be with them still, but I knew I could only be in one place at a time and was learning to accept that.

Over 6 years down the road, I’m undergoing the same extent of emotion; but now all the friends and loved ones I so dearly miss are in Taiwan. I want to be with them, but I know I can only be in one place at at time and I am learning that it’s not easy to know where you’re supposed to be in life.

I could simplify this issue and say I have two homes now, but I’m no longer sure that’s entirely true, either.

Home….. bittersweet home. 


When the weekend really does end


I’ve been meaning to publish this post all week; now it’s late Sunday night – so late it’s already Monday – and, needless to say, my weekend is coming to an end. Last weekend was different because it was the bookend of Christmas break, the vacation I get here in America as a teacher

Vacation.  A week off. A trip to some other part of the world. Christmas break. When life feels like a perpetual three-day weekend of awesomeness.

And then the weekend finally ends. And Monday comes. And Mondays right after vacation are the WOOOOOORST.

Fine, I’ll hand it to the people who are all excited and like to hit the ground running and all that junk, but let’s be honest. If you’ve been working for a while now, it’s almost cruel how awesome vacation feels. Going back to work feels like going for a run after Thanksgiving. But what am I saying? I ran a half-marathon after Thanskgiving.

THE POINT IS, the weekend that never ended is now over. And I need to go into work tomorrow morning, and then for 4 more days after that until another weekend that will end the same time this one did; and that cycle just keeps repeating itself until spring break.

So how does one survive this awful transition from vacation to work? I have a few suggestions but am completely open to input.

  1. RELISH YOUR TIME OFF. Nothing like a day off. Nothing like a week off! Even a foul weather day can come as a pleasant surprise.
  2. KEEP THEM SEPARATE. Keep firm boundaries for yourself as far as what you do when you’re in work mode and what you do in vacay mode. For example, binge-watching a TV series. If I do too much of that during the week, I put myself into weekend mode, and all productivity shuts down.
  3. EARN YOUR VACATION. Make every minute at work count. It’s going to make the days off feel that much better. Most of us have all probably accepted by now that work is a necessary part of life. It’s not our whole life, but it’s there; and there’s no vacation without it!
  4. GRAB ON TO THAT ONE THING, NO MATTER HOW BIG OR SMALL, THAT REMINDS YOU OF THE DIFFERENCE YOUR JOB IS MAKING IN THIS WORLD. I work in education, so you might think that’s a no-brainer for me. But after a few weeks of feeling like you’re changing the world one student at a time, the novelty wears off. I daily need to remind myself of how important my job is to my students and set that in front of me as I explain, for the seventh time, what a verb is.

So now my weekend, like most of my weekends in the near future will be, is ending. In fact, it’s already over; I’m just staying up late to tell you all of my deep thoughts on the matter.

And I hope we all have a great week. 🙂



The Year of Integrity



My “bridge book” between 2015 and 2016 was Oola. That’s right, pronounced just the way it’s spelled: OOLA. The subtitle read, “Find balance in an unbalanced world.”  The subtext read “The 7 areas you need to balance and grow to live the life of your dreams.”

I have no intention of doing a book review or summary here, but I will say that this book – that the concept of Oola, rather – has had and is still having a profound influence in the way I am approaching this new year. In fact, it’s completely altered my perspective of living life.

Timing is everything, and I got this book at just the right time: at the tail end of a 3-year trek through a valley of sunshine, depression, self-pity, and pain, during which it sometimes felt like I was doing what I love but mostly felt like I was simply doing what I had to do. It was a stagnant and difficult season.

“The 7 areas you need to balance and grow to live the life of your dreams” are fitness, finance, faith, field, friends, fun, and family. In the book, these areas are actually referred to as OolaFitness, OolaFinance, etc, as they all relate to living the OolaLife. There are also Oola BLOCKERS, obstacles that get between you and your OolaLife, and Oola ACCELERATORS, the things that maximize the forward motion of you OolaLife. (All of these Oola concepts and more can be found at If you are intrigued enough to go read the book yourself, you can buy it at the Oola Store.)

One of the Oola accelerators is integrityI found this chapter of the book particularly inspiring. I suddenly saw how keeping integrity WITH MYSELF is the key to consistent self-motivation. Integrity with myself? Yes. As in, keeping my word to myself. 

How many times do you break a promise….to yourself?  Aw, next time. I didn’t get around to it today. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow. How many times have you lied…to yourself? I was gonna start working out this week but there was just no time. I have yet to read that book I said I was gonna read last month. How many times do you let yourself down? Man, I really needed to buy that, but I just don’t have enough money. I have to cancel tomorrow’s hike; too many other things came up. 

Suddenly, Oola blockers like self-sabotage and guilt made sense. I feel lousy and unreliable and therefore am not up to a challenge. My lack of integrity with myself has been keeping me not only from reaching goals, but also from setting them! Productivity, time-management, and finance-control have been serious struggles over the last few years because I haven’t been in living in integrity with myself!

In 2016, I am resolving to live with more integrity, integrity that starts with ME holding MYSELF accountable for the things I say I will do, things I want to do, things I need to do. Integrity that drives me to take  ownership of my life. 

Life happens. You can find those two words on plaques, t-shirt, coffee cups. But those two words aren’t enough. The life that was happening to me for the last three years was really not the life I wanted to live. Today, I am still not where or what I want to be. That changes now. 2016 is the year I make life happen.

Happy New Year! May 2016 be the year you make the life of your dreams happen.




Why I Run, Part II: the seed of motivation



When I graduated from college in 2009, the economy was not so hot. Many people I know stayed in school and immediately started working on their respective master’s degrees since that option was much more appealing than going back to the minimum wage work day. I, on the other hand, left the country and moved to Taiwan to teach English and do ministry. 


In Taiwan, I kept up my running. I was getting plugged into a community that cared about personal fitness, so motivation and encouragement were not hard to come by. My new lifestyle also included a nearby riverside trail, which made outdoor walking, running, and biking totally accessible and convenient.

From time to time, I would ice my right knee, which was something I was used due to post-surgery soreness. Then one day, only 2 months after moving to a foreign country, the soreness didn’t go away. In fact, it got worse, exponentially worse with every step I took. An excruciating commute to work led me to the floor of my classroom, where I realized I was not going to be able to teach that day. I couldn’t move my leg without an awful pain shooting through what felt like my whole body, not to mention my knee had swollen to the size of a softball.

Soon, I was in a taxi, initially on my way home until I heeded the advice of the very thoughtful, English-speaking taxi driver, who drove me to the nearest hospital, which happened to be one of the biggest and best hospitals in the area.

There, in a foreign country, I submitted myself to the emergency room, waited hours for blood tests and an MRI, then finally saw a doctor who used a syringe to extract this greenish-yellowish goop from my knee. It was an infection, and I was to report back on Monday for a follow-up appointment with another doctor.

That weekend, I kept movement to a minimum but felt a lot better with all that infected goop out of my knee. On Monday, I returned to the hospital and was instructed by the doctor to return immediately if I had a fever or chills, as these were symptoms of an infection in my blood that needed to be removed, which is exactly what I did on Thursday. I spent Thursday night in a hospital; and on Friday, the doctor surgically removed the infected tissue from my knee, as well as the screws that were in there from my ACL operation. (I got the screws and pictures and everything as souvenirs!) Then I was put in a hospital room where I remained until the infection index in my blood went down to .0009 or something like that. It ended up being 12 days. (They gave me an option to stay longer. So nice of them.)

My right knee was not getting a break. Hospital life, however, ended up being a surprisingly refreshing “break” from everything else. 


I was so happy and thankful to be home from the hospital free from that awful infection (which likely was a result of an abrupt environmental and/or lifestyle change, also known as moving to a foreign country where you walk everywhere instead of drive). Perhaps I should have done some professional pt sessions to jumpstart my recovery, but I didn’t. Been there, done that, was my conclusion on the matter.

Restoring range of motion and strength were now entirely up to me. Thanks to living in the city, I walked everywhere, but it was quite a few months before I got my run back on and even regained full strength. I stayed relatively active, even travelled a lot, but was not necessarily fit.

325626_535189794939_1210126963_o 324856_535189899729_179516938_o

I had a running friend and roommate who ran pretty regularly. I tried to keep up with her, but I wasn’t prioritizing it enough. Her will-power and consistency was inspiring. A group of us traveled to a place called Taroko Gorge, where she was running the Taroko Half Marathon. Witnessing all these people running made me realize that I wanted – needed – to do something like this, too. It was time to commit. And running a marathon was on my bucket list. 

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART I: meeting my physical self

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART III: the bucket list

> > Read WHY I RUN, PART IV: the conclusion of the matter

Why I Run, Part I: meeting my physical self



Over the last few months, a few people have asked me, “How did you start running?” At first, this question took me off guard; because until now, I’ve been surrounded by people who also run so the question was simply never asked. Also, I’ve done so much writing about my running journey that it has never occurred to me that I’ve actually never shared how this all started for me. There has been bits and pieces and references but nothing complete. So here it is. Unabridged and in 3 parts. Enjoy.

I tore my ACL when I was a junior in college. I wasn’t doing anything awesome. During my college years, I was an active and involved student who ran around attending and planning events; I was no athlete. You could hear me at athletic events, but I didn’t play any sports. Only intramural stuff, which never went anywhere. How did I tear it? Concert. The initial injury happened at an outdoor mosh pit, and then I completely hyperextended it at another show by simply coming down on it wrong as I was vigorously jumping up and down to the band’s final song.

Not being an athlete, I was not prepared for such a physical setback and the wait-time between the doctor’s diagnosis that my anterior cruciate ligament was indeed torn and the surgery. The operation was a good month away; meanwhile, I limped, used crutches, and was slow. Not my cup of tea. I did not enjoy being slowed down AT ALL.

Finally, the day of my first ever surgical operation came. The anesthesia pulled me under, and the next thing I knew my was friend holding peanut butter toast in front of my face. My butt was completely asleep. My friend took me to her home, where I spent a prearranged week away from school to recover. The muscles of my right leg were emaciated, moving around was inconvenient, and painkillers were a necessity.

Physical therapy was where everything started. I had to regain range of motion in my right leg, and I literally needed to learn to walk again. It was in the moments I spent after my pt sessions icing my sore knee that I had a “physical awakening.” I had become aware of my physical self. 

I always knew it was there. I use my physical body every day. But it was in that moment when I met my physical identify. It was like I had come face to face with my physicality in an almost transcendent way. She was talking to me.

Physical self: Hello, I am your body.

Conscious self: Hi. I think we’ve already met.

Physical self: Yes and no.

Conscious self: What do you mean?

Physical self: You know me, but you haven’t really been including me in your life.

Conscious self: What are you talking about? I use you every day!

My physical self didn’t say anything else after that. She really didn’t need to. 

My doctor told me to get off the crutches. (Yeah, I was still using the crutches. Apparently, I had trust issues with my physical self.) Building up strength was essential to my healing process. So in addition to my weekly pt sessions, I started taking walks all over the campus in my free time. And as soon as my range of motion came back, I started biking 3 mornings a week before class. The image of my emaciated my right leg after the cast was removed days after surgery drove me on to regain and restore physical strength.

The doctor also told me that I would be able to run again six months after the operation. Now, when he told me this, it didn’t really mean anything to me at the time. Like I mentioned earlier, I was no athlete. However, there was a suppressed aspiration that getting reacquainted with my physical self  had freed.

All my life, of all the athletes I would watch on television or see in real life, I admired the runners, bikers, and swimmers most. As a kid, I would root for joggers from inside the car as my family and I drove by. There was something there; it was literally like my physical self was waking up. 

I marked August 11, 2008, on my calendar, exactly 6 months after my ACL surgery.


I ended up working as a housekeeper that summer at the Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center in Cannon Beach, Oregon; so when August 11 arrived, I celebrated my post-surgery progress by running on the beach. I was winded after 15 minutes. But I didn’t stop.

I got up to 3 miles that summer, running on the beach nearly every day. I kept it up throughout my senior year of college. I got up to 4 miles on a treadmill. I also started distance-biking on local trails. I had begun actually living with my physical self. And it was awesome.





Into the Wilderness


Into the Wild is one of my favorite movies.  The film’s nihilistically artistic feel triggers that human longing of wanderlust, and through McCandless we vicariously experience an escape from the world of disillusionment and materialism. But that’s not why I love the film.

A lot of us, like McCandless, want something more, something that we can’t find at Target or the grocery store or the nearest Redbox.  Many of us scratch the itch through travel or the great outdoors, only to return a greater void than when we left.

Yet a journey into the wild to discover life’s meaning lies in the people around us and to be reminded to be thankful for what we already have is not practical for the average working global citizen. As a result, many people walk around with a gaping and painful sense of emptiness and lack of purpose.

I’ve encountered a few of these people and have watched them change, and witnessing their journey made me realize how largely I have taken for granted the sense of purpose instilled in me when I was very young.

IMG_0432In recent years, that sense of purpose my parents and the Church imparted to me through the sacrament of baptism has come into question. A few years ago, I remember expressing to a group of females at a Bible study that I was so certain my life was complete in God that I could die tomorrow without feeling like I’ve missed anything. Wow, I felt that way!? I believe I did, but those words no longer ring true me right now. Have I lost something?

Is it time for me to escape reality as I know it and re-ignite the fire that once lit up my life?

Into the Wilderness

An average audience of human beings might consider a movie that ended with the main character that gave up in the face of great hardship and pain a sad but true scenario. But it’s the character who rallies back to life that triggers something deep within us. It’s the character who forgives unforgivable wrong that makes our spirits feel uncomfortable. It’s the character who chooses life in spite of death that brings us to our feet in praise.

We can all be this character. It starts with a journey into the wilderness. 

This journey isn’t really an exciting venture. In fact, we can’t even plan or pack for it. There is no neat itinerary or dream destination. We don’t even get to choose if it’s a one-way or two-way trip. It is simply guaranteed to change your life. You will never be the same. It is in the wilderness of pain and loneliness where we meet God.

God is essential. Without Him, we die. Without something greater and more powerful than us to give meaning to our life, we are simply that movie character who gives up in the face of great hardship and pain. And we all know what that can look like.

I read in a book that it is through relationship we experience most of life’s pain and also how we receive the most healing. I think there is more than one human being  out there who would affirm the accuracy of this scenario. Here’s the point: we’ve all heard people in real life and the movies declare that they’ve met someone they can’t live without.

I can’t live without God.

That is the realization I need to come to. Without realizing this, God will mean nothing to me. And the only place I will actually experience is this in the wilderness.

In the wilderness, there is no water, no food, no supplies, no other people. You even come up short in your knowledge of the local flora and fauna. Everything you once knew or loved will feel far away. All is stripped away. You will have no choice but to call on God. Or die.

10277910_599868852589_8579413871069486351_nAnd here’s why we don’t need to plan this life-changing journey: it will happen, whether you want it to or not. You remember the childhood game, hide-and-seek? “Ready or not, here I come!” The wilderness experiences of life are like that.

I’m still in the wilderness.

God doesn’t wait for us to be ready, but he will always be there when everything starts to fall apart. In fact, he’s always there; we just tend not to notice when life is good.

He is waiting for you there in the wilderness, just as he was waiting for Christopher McCandless.