Monday, June 27, 2011


Mom and Dad’s visit went off pretty much without a hitch. I’ve been back to work for about two weeks now, and I’ll be excited to put up a guest post from them soon!

In the meanwhile, I’ve been reflecting a lot about balance. Over the past year, I’ve often felt like I was ricocheting from one thing to the next – work to dinner to binging on the Internet to sleep to work to the bare necessary housework to lunch to the bare necessary social interaction to work to dinner, and so on and so forth. It’s so easy to become addicted to repetitive, meaningless thought and action – and so hard to break those patterns.

Unlike my first six months in Guatemala, having a laptop has made me feel like I have to be “on” 100% of the time. The only problem is that’s just not realistic in terms of mental energy.

So getting home, numbly standing around for 5 minutes thinking "What am I doing?", putting on the computer and vegging out on blogs and Facebook until my boyfriend comes on Skype, feeling guilty about it, and falling asleep the minute we hung up, has become the norm.

Last week, I finally struck more balance than I’ve experienced in at least a year of living here. Part of it was surely Mom and Dad’s visit - almost 10 days of hot showers, clean hotel rooms, parental coddling, being the boss of your own schedule, and no cooking, cleaning, or work, will leave a psyche somewhat rejuvenated. Their trip was something I had been planning for awhile and I was also just psyched that it all turned out so well.

Immediately following that I had a crazy week with a day of food poisoning, a handicrafts workshop, a meeting of the local economic development commission, finishing our SPA proposal for the sign project, and two walks up to the park in two days (about 13 miles and 3000 ft gained and lost - great exercise!)

After the second walk, I’m not sure what it was, but some small voice in my head told me to turn off the nagger inside me and focus on doing something cool, new, break out of the pattern, tackle some of the things on my to-do list that I always brush aside.

So the next day I bought, chopped, and over the next three days subsequently ate a full head of turnip leaves, something I’ve been meaning to do forever. I stayed away from the office (Trap of Distraction and Death to Productivity) for two afternoons and thought about my Masters’ project, something which has been needing attention.

I started adding other little tasks to the day – deleting a few emails every day to break up the big task of cleaning my Gmail box – setting a bedtime regardless of the boyfriend – giving myself 5 minutes for Facebook and my favorite blogs, no more - doing whatever dishes are in the sink nightly, just to have it off my mind.

I'm realizing that changing habits for the better is all about breaking big jobs down into smaller jobs, and then making these smaller jobs daily habits. Chab'aku, poco a poco, little by little, as they say here. The sense of accomplishment becomes this self-reinforcing thing: cool, we've got that one thing pretty under control, now let's take on that other little thing in the back burner.

Rather than being overwhelmed, you begin to strike a balance between wanting to control everything and wanting to control nothing.