The Importance of Being Terrible


I have been practicing belly dance for a little over a year now. I’m no longer have those moments where I am just mad about being terrible. This isn’t necessarily a better state of being.

I like to tell people that I choose when to start new things based on whether I am ready to cry over it.

This is hyperbole. I don’t often cry in frustration. I will feel like it, though: I hate being terrible.

Make no mistake: I am still terrible at belly dance. I have lots of moments where my brain explodes. It is not an easy art to learn: it involves intense physical multi-tasking . But I am no longer overwhelmed enough I want to cry.

I budget for emotional expenditure this way because it gives me the permission to start something new. Something perfectionism wants to prevent at all costs!

It is really good for me to regularly be terrible at stuff.

It reminds me that being awesome at something is not the only way to enjoy it. It reminds me of the basics: like, practice is the only way to improve. (This becomes easier to forget when you get less terrible at something.)  That what you do with skill now, you were once no good at, so it’s good to be kind to those not as skilled as you.

Trying new things is one of the ways we continue to grow.

It’s also a healthy reality check about your own personality. If you only improve what you’re already skilled in, you don’t get a good close look to how you are as a raw, frustrated beginner.

I warn people that I get cranky and may cry. I have accepted this. I have budgeted for it. And I go out and do things that I will be terrible at, anyway.

But I think I’m going to enjoy the slightly-less-tearful state I’m in with belly dance for a bit longer…

Are you ready to challenge perfectionism by making some messy journal entries?

To figure out where you need a little more being terrible at something new?

Join me, your friendly neighborhood health coach, in July with  Get Back Your MOJO, a month of journaling prompts designed to break you out of ruts and get back that spark of creativity!


celebrating female characters – KDRAMA

Last week, I participated in a fandom-led K-Drama Women’s Week, culminating in International Women’s Day.

A lot of the prompts ask about characters who are sidelined or treated unfairly–and I love the way I get to hear what other fans love about characters.

Some of my own posts:

Rewrite: Character Most Likely to Escape Abusive Relationship – GIL RA IM (Secret Garden)

picking a character who, in retrospect, should have enjoyed herself and then moved on…

Favorite Overseas Returnee: Coffee Prince’s YOO JOO

because Coffee Prince is still just the greatest in some things – the returned ex is a trope that is often deployed thoughtlessly for tension, and this is not one of those

And definitely not least:

Favorite Fridged Mom – PINOCCHIO

She didn’t even get a name, though she got an actress I hope to see in more high-profile projects.

Top Picks from Other Bloggers

Fridged Mom: Arang and the Magistrate (spoiler alert! spoiler alert!)

Favorite Matriarch: Miss Korea

Favorite Lead: Go Dok Mi – Flower Boy Next Door

Celebrate the ladies!

What My First Celebrity Crush Taught Me

To get us started off on the right foot, let me just say that (probably like you) I was a teenager who did NOT “crush on” celebrities. I looked at other girls with passions for movie stars or pop idols with the sort of horrified fascination they, in turn, surely felt for my fashion choices.

It was a point of pride with me that I wasn’t a “typical teenager”–blissfully ignoring all the evidence that there was no such thing.

very few under 25 can successfully pull off the Typical Businessman Look kids don’t try this at home


I didn’t date, didn’t follow pop culture, and though I certainly pined for various boys over the decade I never *did* anything about it. In fact, I had a leg up this not-being-a-teenager thing: nothing about it appealed to me at all.

Then I read a very intriguing book about under-18 transplants to foreign countries (which I was from 13-17) that suggested such young people often put off their adolescent rebellions until 25 or 30.


Was something going to hijack my brain (much like I heard happened when people let themselves do the romance thing) and completely change me and my personality?

I had a few moments of real serious worry, scattered over the next few years, and then this faded into the Garret of Unhelpful Information at the back of my mind.

Cue the entrance into my 20something life of: K-Pop.

I got there via a certain amount of nostalgia for Asia, determination to not watch American TV (some things never change), and a realization that a girl could not live on books alone.

Anyway: at around 24 or so, I fell in love with a hyperproduced pop culture that ranged from miniseries dramas to music to reality TV. And I become totally enamoured of a boy band rapper with the subtle moniker T.O.P.

to be fair (to him AND me) he was rechristened to belong to the boy band BIGBANG


I was both bemused and amused at my dawning comprehension that I had a crush on him. Moreso as I came to realize he was not some little-known talent, at least not in his own nation. He was a successful media star.

It took me a couple of years and a hindsight perspective to realize that the abandon with which I was investing myself in this pop culture scene, despite my usual mode, was probably that delayed teen-ness I had been promised.

But…I was at a point in my life where I was safe to be a little silly, to explore areas of my interest and personality that I hadn’t really noticed before.

I’d been so committed as a youth to Serious Things like writing novels, learning a new language, helping my kid siblings grow up safely, that I’d kept the easy narrow definition of my interests–fantasy fiction and literature, with a little history and cultural education. And now it was okay to have a little play time.

And you know what? People don’t lose all respect for you just because you have a slightly silly interest–everyone has one of those (be it acknowledged or denied). It gives you something to talk about.

I’m sure that’s something that the “typical teenager” was figuring out while I was being anti-social and pretending my conversation was too sophisticated for the masses.

*** This Belated Valentine goes out not to TOP, who has faded into a first-love memory, but all the other lovely late-bloomer k-drama geeks who have become my friends***



Sabbaticals Sound So Radical

I took a break.

What’s funny is it was HARD.

To try and take a break for a month. And I ended up crowding the beginning of my break with “life” being crazy, so though I knew I needed a full month off I started back to work while having only really had a couple of scattered weeks off.

And it didn’t really work.

I started to feel the energy to start again about a week later than I’d let myself wait (the time I KNEW I should get back officially to work, when I made my plans).

But, but, but!

I am not DOING anything.

Things I ended up doing on my break:

  • Hosting 3 different sets of houseguests
  • finishing Christmas gifts
  • Helping plan a house remodel
  • Keeping an eye on remodelling people
  • Reading books I’ve been meaning to read (including assigned book club books)
  • finishing setting a new yarn
  • frogging a project and then reknitting the yarn into something I actually liked
  • cleaning out my clutter

All these good things. And probably mainly made possible (without insanity) by my “break”.

Who knew vacations were a skill to develop? I am going to know better for next year.

Or maybe for this summer. I sucked at this break so much I may have to do another one before I forget the lessons I needed to learn.



Top 3 K-Dramas to Watch as an SF/F Writer

Today I’ve got a video for you!

Just for fun, I’ve made my case for my 3 top Korean dramas that I think are most interesting to speculative fiction writers (sci-fi/fantasy). Not only can I unreservedly recommend them to anyone, each has a specific nerd appeal. 😉

Bonus Blog Content! Unlocked:

Queen In-Hyun’s Man

Note the Joseon hat he's carrying over his pack. This is a detail that made me go watch the show.
Note the Joseon hat he’s carrying over his pack. This is a detail that made me go watch the show.

Recap: Well-thought out time-travel rom com.

As I mention in the video, this show lets it’s scholarly hero BE smart in practice. He uses deductive reasoning and picks up quickly on things.

I didn’t have time to mention the leading lady, so I’ll do that here: she’s great. She’s a B-rate actress finally landing a big role. She’s not booksmart, and the show lets her be that way without taking away her deserving love, or having agency. She’s a really unusual heroine in a world populated by super-achievers. Also, they are super-cute together.

Arang and the Magistrate

This poster pretty much encapsulates everyone's personalities perfectly.
This poster pretty much encapsulates everyone’s personalities perfectly.

Recap: Ghost-girl seeks her murderer, with the reluctant help of the new Magistrate in town, and a hapless shaman.

One of the facets of this show I didn’t get to really go into on video was that it has an EXCELLENT baddie. It would be spoiler-ish to say too much, but it involves a creepy magic that is so organic with the meeting of the world of the dead and the world of the Heavenly Court we see that I just was in awe, as a fantasy writer.

While some of the tone is often hijinks-y and cute, it also goes to darker places emotionally–after all, confronting that you are dead and that someone did that to you is pretty intense.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

You eventually get used to the hats. They even become adorable plotpoints!

Recap: Scholars preparing to become government officials get hot under the collar about human rights.

One of the biggest charms of this show was its friendships. Before any romantic tension comes into the equation, the debate between scholars, some of whom have a ground-level perspective on the injustices of the class system, is just so fun.

The fact that it happens all in the context of Confucian teachings made the time period really come alive to me in a unique way, too. I love that it’s a school drama set centuries in the past. Also, the gorgeous sets are just incredible.