Self-Indulgent Idiosyncrasies: Animal Totems, Culture Shock & Virgo Birthdays

Can you find the frog?

Frog Totem

Can you find the frog in the plant? This frog has been visiting me for the past several days. Showing up in the rarest of places – on the patio table, and in my favorite potted plants.  After the fourth time meeting him, I figured it was a sign. If a certain animal keeps following you, it might have a message for you.  It might be your animal totem (click here to find your animal in alphabetical order).  The meaning behind the frog totem resonates with me at this time of my life, especially what it has to say about its senses, language, and creativity. What animals have met you along your life’s journey?

He's in the top right corner
The Peek-a-boo Frog

Culture Shock

Who knew culture shock could hit after almost five years? Well it happened to me. Culture shock is usually defined as something that happens within the first year of living in a new culture.  It’s described by these linear stages: Honeymoon, Withdrawal, Adjustement, and Adaptation. For me the experience doesn’t seem so linear. I also realized how sneaky and subtle it is. I feel like I hung out a long time in the honeymoon and adjustment stages, but after four years and nine months into my Korean experience, I started to notice strong feelings of withdrawal.

Losing "myself"?

Reflection: I felt like I was losing “myself”, I was beginning to lack confidence in all aspects of my life, and I definitely felt melancholy for family and friends of my “own culture”. I had to readjust my old way of thinking, my old way of being.  I had to mourn the loss of the old “me”. Now I’m celebrating the new “me” – the “me” who is letting go of the shoulds with regards to adapting. I’ve accepted the shift, and I feel myself becoming confident and content once again. I think two new stages should be added to the culture shock model – the Mourning/Celebration Stage, and the Acceptance Stage -stages I came to realize after facing my feelings of sadness and fear.

Finding "myself"?

Check out for an uplifting and informative article on culture shock. My favorite quote there is:  “It’s helpful to first acknowledge your feeling and then become pro-active.” Pro-active is the way to go any day.

I dedicate this piece of my blog to Natalie R. who encouraged me to add it.

Happy Birthday to Moi!

This is the spooky spot-on horoscope which predicted the shift.

Virgo Aug 23 | Sep 22 No more rotten dessert, Virgo. No more silky danger or juicy poison. No more worthless treasures or empty successes or idiotic brilliance. Soon all those crazy-making experiences will be gone, blasted, dead. By this time next week, the bad influences that were trying to pass themselves off as good influences will have fallen away in response to your courageous drive for authenticity. You will be primed to restore your innocence and play in places where purity is the rule, not the exception. Already, the wisdom of your wild heart is regenerating, giving you the strength to overthrow the sour, life-hating influences that were threatening to smother your spirit.

Find your silver-tongued horoscope at

I dedicate this piece to Rebecca who introduced me to this uncanny website.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, peace out!


18 thoughts on “Self-Indulgent Idiosyncrasies: Animal Totems, Culture Shock & Virgo Birthdays

  1. From one Virgo to another who sometimes feels like the hidden frog one day to the exposed frog another day. Here’s to the thrills and spills of the expat daze and the “whoever” we are, wherever we are. Many Happy Returns to you for back then!

  2. How beautiful, Josette! I absolutely agree with you about the mourning/celebration stage, and I also feel like culture shock is not a one-way process–we move forward and backward as we feel at home and then not.

    And the pro-active issue is one of the biggest contributors to my own culture shock. Since childhood, I was a huge contingency planner, and I was almost never without a plan or an idea of what to do. But when I got here so many things happened that I had never foreseen happening and were so foreign to me that none of my plans covered them. The lack of preparation and constant surprise made my life VERY uncomfortable because it was totally against my natural preferences. Now that I have been here long enough to have contingency plans, I’m starting to feel better, but I know that feeling can disappear in a moment…

    It’s like a mine-field because you don’t see the shock coming before it blows up in your face. The question is how we adapt to the loss of limb. Does it make us stronger or do we give up?

    Happy birthday, too!

    1. Elizabeth, thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s amazing how important it is to learn to let go. I also wanted to thank you for your support this summer. I’m not sure if you knew, I felt a lot of support and comfort from your phone calls. It’s hard to meet women sharing the same experience as ours, and meeting someone with such a bright outlook such as you has made me appreciate this intercultural experience so much more. Through our conversations I learned that we don’t give up when we lose a limb. You are an example of how the loss makes us stronger.

      Much love :)

      1. What a beautiful comment, Josette! Ditto on the support. It IS hard to find women in our situation and equally hard to find someone open-minded and not offended by the expressing of difficult views. I feel very lucky to have met you. The past six months has been a turning point for me now that my children are a little older of discovering what my needs are and how to go about meeting them (this was on hold before because there simply wasn’t time for me to have needs!).

        I’ve been trying to leave you alone during your first week of school, but I’m really looking forward to calling you next week.

        PS – I hope the first day of classes went well!

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