Getting back to the basics

Last year brought many changes for me, and most of them were simply amazing. I have the freedom I’ve always dreamed of – to do something I care about, whenever I want, wherever I want, and the way I want it. After so many years of working the Korean way, this freedom feels truly overwhelming. It’s like trying your best to focus and get down to work in a room where there’s no walls, no floor and no ceiling, and you’re in a constant state of a free fall.

It turns out freedom takes a while to get accustomed to it, and brings a whole lot of inconvenient questions. If there’s nothing you must do, and nothing you can’t do, how come you hardly get out of bed before 10? Why don’t you exercise if you have the most flexible schedule of all people on Earth? How come you hardly actually leave the house, unless you’re leaving the country?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want out of this year. I came up with an awesome mini-bucketlist with lots of cool, Instagram-worthy things to check off. But the more I thought about this, the more I realized I need to focus on just a few key things, and find my new normal in a life that’s not normal at all. Here are my top priorities for 2017.

Get back to workout, no matter what

There was a time in my life when I was in the gym at least 4 times a week. It was also a time when I led a perfectly regular and distraction-free life. I didn’t even have to think about cooking or cleaning!
The luxury didn’t last long. Once I decided to apply for Automattic, I had two jobs at one point and completely gave up on anything but working, eating and sleeping. Since then, every time I plant a tiny seed for any habit, I go for a trip, break my routine, and forget everything I’ve learned. It’s high time to admit that never is the perfect time to start working out, and to look for a routine that can be followed everywhere, even in a trailer park.
By the end of January I want to exercise at least 3 times a week. The hard part will be to keep it consistently throughout the year, no matter where I am at the time.

Learn to cook well

It’s not like I can’t cook at all, I’m just very far from efficient.
I love cooking for my brothers who are grateful for everything that has food in it, but everyone else on the planet could probably find at least a few things for me to improve. In the kitchen I am so slow and clumsy that it usually becomes too painful to watch, and someone volunteers to save me from this suffering (and also from learning and gaining experience). My biggest pain point is food shopping and planning – I go for the least healthy option when I am hungry, and don’t feel like buying any food when I’m not.
It doesn’t help that I have a boyfriend who cooks much better than me. Or that I got terribly spoiled by a year of living out of company canteen, without even having to use a pot or frying pan once.
I have no ambitions to become a Master Chef, but knowing at least 7 healthy signature meals that I can make efficiently and plan in advance would be a giant leap from where I am now.

Write more on my blog

Once in two weeks would be a good start. Once a week would be super-amazing.
There are so many things I care about in life, and I’m scared to death to write about these things. When I’m emotionally involved in a topic, I tend to drift towards pathos and self-righteousness – and this is driving me nuts.
I used to complain I have nothing more to write about once I returned from Korea. This was such a good lie I actually got to believe it myself. In fact, I’d love to write about Cosmos, human nature, education, challenges facing humanity, love, death, the meaning of it all, mindfulness, leaving an impact, happiness and stuff, but it’s incredibly hard to speak of these things as they are. I always feel I either sound like a stoned cosmic fairy, or a know-it-all judgmental asshole.
Not many things in life make me as vulnerable as writing about stuff I deeply care about. This is precisely why I should keep going. Getting my thoughts out on the Internet gives me clarity that’s hard to achieve otherwise.

Read (and understand!) Feynmann’s Lectures on Physics

As much as I’m in love with the Cosmos, I have only basic understanding of how it works. It’s quite embarrassing, but I hardly know any math beyond high school level (and I graduated as a Bachelor of Engineering!). Well, it’s so embarrassing I’ve never actually admitted this until now.
I tried reading the Lectures on Physics a few years ago, but gave up somewhere around chapter 10. I really enjoyed the book until differential equations in three dimensions appeared out of nowhere and hit me hard in the face.
If I am to write about Cosmos, I must stop pretending I have an idea what I’m talking about, and actually start to have that idea. If that means re-learning the whole university math course from scratch, so it shall be, I guess.


Items on this list are not as interesting or sexy as traveling around Iceland and Thailand, passing an open-water diver’s license, or even learning Spanish. But that’s precisely what I need now, to keep doing the basic stuff no matter how chaotic my life would get. Once I learn to ride the waves, there’s nothing that can stop me on my way to adventure.

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