Navigating through life away from the library.
Navigating through life away from the library.

Some of the Best Advice I’ve Received: DO THE THING

Trigger warning: a brief mention of emotional and sexual abuse.

Growing up, I was an avid reader. My life was a grab bag of emotional and sexual abuse. Books were my escape. The characters were my friends. My family. Even to this day, there are some characters who are still with me. Some authors that I still turn to when I need to center.

It was during a particularly dark time that I remember reading: “Do one thing in your life that will give you a good story when you’re old.” Funny thing is, I don’t remember where I read it or what character said it. I just know that it struck a chord. Danielle Steel novels gave me life, so I’d guess the advice is some derivative of something I read in one of her books…

At the time, I thought my life was just going to be this endless cycle of nothingness with periods of rage and intense sadness.

Years later, I joined the Army – something no one who knew me expected. I was quite possibly the least athletic person you’d ever want to meet and, while I loved my country, there was nothing particularly patriotic about me. Still, I ended up in the Army.

My first duty station was Camp Eagle, Korea. I was scared, excited, nervous, ready to go, wishing to stay… I was everything. Korea was my greatest adventure. When I arrived in Seoul, there was a part of me that came to life. It was loud. There were people everywhere. And I was completely on my own. Well, you know, except for my official guardian, the United States Army.

Still, when I checked into the Dragon Hill hotel, I knew I wanted to explore my new home.

I ended up staying in Seoul for about a little over a week, during which time, I explored the local community, ate a lot of food from local restaurants, and just lived life. Then I was sent to Camp Eagle.

I loved Camp Eagle. It was a small installation where everyone knew everyone. We had Korean nationals who worked in our dining facility. It was in Camp Eagle that I found out that I was pregnant with my first baby. When the Korean cooks found out, they told their wives and their wives almost immediately started bringing me food because they said I needed to eat so I could have a “fat, healthy baby.” I was incredibly spoiled by all the good food that came my way.

One of my favorite things to do was to travel around the city and meet locals. The funny part? I didn’t speak a lot of Korean and most of the people I met didn’t speak English, so we’d draw pictures and act things out. I’d get invited to people’s homes to eat dinner. I wish that I’d been into photography and documenting my experiences. But I didn’t know anything about that then. Social media wasn’t a thing. We just kind of lived in the moment.

I have the memories and I have the stories. And when I tell my kids how often I stayed with random Korean families, they’re gob smacked.

Now that my kids are adults, I tell them to “Do one thing in your life that will give you a good story when you’re old.” Of course, I stress not to do anything dangerous, because people are cray and they don’t wanna worry their mother.

Now it’s your turn: what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?


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Now go play in your closet,

Daenel T {Living Outside the Stacks}





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This post was written as part of a week-long blog challenge hosted by Aaronica Cole.