close to my {heart}

i think i mentioned this in a post a couple of weeks ago, but in case you didn't hear, the mr. and i are going to be spending our anniversary this year in China!

picture from my first stay in China

it's been a long-time coming, been put off and put off a few hundred times, and now, even though we've felt really awesome about going right now, things happened with our house, etc that made us question (again) if this is the right time to go, if we can afford it (even though yes, we do get away with paying very little to fly and we have a place to stay - my sister lives there), and so on and so on. but i put my foot down and said i am not pushing this trip back any more! we will go and we will deal with everything and we will like it!

so going, we are. we leave the end of this month. you may or may not know, but i've been there before. in fact, i lived there for about 3 months. exactly 3 years ago today, i was living there. i grew to love it, and i've been super excited ever since jae and i got married to take him back to visit and show him the ropes! (as if i know all there is to know about china, ha!)

anyway, as i was driving the other day, i was thinking about our upcoming trip and about china and about my time spent there before. for some reason, when i think about those months i lived there, it's a very emotional thing for me. i guess i shouldn't say 'for some reason'....i know why. it was a very emotional time for me in my life.

when i decided to go to china, it was a very spur of the moment thing. from the time we (my family and i) decided i was going until the time i left was only about 3 weeks time. getting my passport, plane tickets, visa, getting things worked out at home with my bills and my job...it was a whirlwind! looking back, it was kind of a crazy thing i did! but i know everything fell into place for me for a reason and i was meant to go.

without getting into too much detail, some pretty heavy, hard things had gone on during the couple of months leading up to then. at the time, i don't think i even really knew how bad of shape i was in.

anyway, i got everything taken care of, got on a plane, and said goodbye to all i'd known and headed to a new, strange place really far away. i spent the first week or so getting used to the time change (they were 12 hours ahead of utah....really throws you off!). my sister and her husband had two kids at the time, and she had her third just a few weeks after i arrived. i spent a lot of my time with the two older kids, taking them to weekly playdates, etc. while my sister stayed home with the brand new baby. i enjoyed it a lot. i met lots of new people from (literally) all over the world, who quickly became good friends. i taught a few english classes and made some money. i spent the holidays there, where they don't really celebrate them like we do, which was interesting. i got my hair washed almost weekly (it was so cheap and wonderful!). i explored, rode the subway a lot, hailed taxis every day. basically became a whole different person! a city girl. with two kids!

although i had lots of people around me almost all the time.
although i loved where i was and the experiences i was getting.
although i loved being with my sister.
although i had tons of fun.
i was empty inside.
i felt really alone.

i was in that place that i think everyone experiences at some point in their lives, where you take a step back and ask yourself who the heck am i? what am i doing with myself and my life? where am i headed? you know, a soul searching kind of time. heck, i even chopped my hair off! something i swore i'd never do again after going through the growing-it-back-out thing.

you know how certain songs or artists remind us of certain times/events/people? well for me, that was avril lavigne and china. they went hand in hand. maybe that sounds a little strange, but seriously, avril's music got me through some rough times in china.

her song 'innocence', in particular, was very well worn in by the time i left china. it was one of those songs that it didn't matter what mood i was in, that was my go-to song. mad, sad, happy, sleepy, whatever it was, that song was on repeat a lot.

walking the streets of Shanghai with my ipod going
have you had songs like that? times in your life where just one song was almost part of your being because you constantly had it running through your thoughts? that was that song for me.

in case you haven't ever heard it, you should listen to it. not your usual boy-hating, girl power kind of avril song. it basically talks about being ok. finally reaching that point where life is good, truly good. and you can see that goodness and you can enjoy it. and you know you're alright.

i'm not even sure why i'm writing all of this. i guess i never really laid it all out on the line. never expressed all my feelings about this experience until now, and i felt i needed to. it's a bit scattered, so i apologize, but i'm just writing it for me, mostly, i suppose. i realize now how important those 3 months were for me. for my soul and heart to heal and be ready for what was ahead. i needed to be away from life for a bit and have those "you'll be fine" words pounded into my head a few thousand times.

i'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father who knows what's up. who let's us go through trials and tough times but is also there to help us keep moving through them and onto bigger and better things. i am so grateful for my husband. for the person he is and for the person he helps me to be. i am grateful for the chance to return to china with him, and share that place with him that was so special to me.



  1. I really related with this post. I thought of my "soul searching" time of life while reading this and a strange sweating sensation happened to my eyes :P. Great Post Mar.

  2. i'm glad you were able to go to china -- i know you came home a new-mara, refreshed and ready to take on life head on. so glad you get to take jae back now to that special place!!

  3. I'm glad you went to China too. I thought you were kinda crazy at the time. But I'm glad you went. It was a rough time for you and a bit for our friendship too, but China made it all better! yay for china!

  4. So excited for you guys! And I do think that we all need those soul-searching times in our life to really discover who we are and what matters most to us. And don't worry about the money thing--the memories you gain on this trip will be worth every cent!