Friday Gratitude: Little Changes

Several Peace Corps volunteers in the group ahead of mine told me that their second year of service was easier than their first. I fantasized about my service becoming easier once I started my second year of school. But, for me, it has not been true. My emotions are as up and down as they’ve ever been. I feel like I am constantly having to re-set my own mental health button, and constantly having to set boundaries with other people. (Gee, you and your wife want to come to my house so I can give you free English lessons? I am afraid I am busy all of the days.)

This week, I have consciously made a series of small changes in an attempt to cheer myself up:

  1. I got a haircut. Back in Chicago, I would get a haircut every four months (so, three times per year). I’ve really let my standard slack here in Kosovo. The water at my site is particularly bad (Peace Corps gave me a boiling filtration system so I can at least drink it), and it’s wrecked havoc on my hair. I was going to put off getting a haircut until I returned to the U.S., (kind of a disheartened “what’s the point?” feeling), but this past weekend I bit the bullet and got a much-needed trim. My hair feels better, and so do I.
  2. I’ve made small changes to my morning routine, including switching up my breakfast food (I like variety) and trying to keep a “gratitude” journal. Given how faithfully I’ve kept up with this blog, it may surprise some of you to know that I’ve never been a big journaler. Any time I tried in the past, my entries became dull lists of daily activities, or they would devolve into complaining. But this week, I’ve taken to jotting down a list of things I am grateful for in that moment, and I try to be specific (“I am grateful for talking to this person”) rather than general (“I am grateful for my family and for my health.”) I also list any goals I think of for the day or week.
  3. Furthermore, I have been trying to start my day with ten minutes of yoga. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t do a full-on routine, but this week, I tried to get in the habit of just loosening my muscles and joints first thing in the morning.
  4. I re-arrange my bedroom furniture again, to give myself a fresh perspective.
  5. I signed up for an online course through Coursera titled “Buddhism and Modern Psychology.” I’ve signed up for online courses in the past and have had varying degrees of success in sticking with them. But I am determined to finish this one!

Media consumption this week:

  • I finished the last Harry Potter book. It is one of my least favorite in the series and I didn’t re-read the whole thing, just skipped around to different parts.
  • I’m a fan of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” and so I read the book (same title) on which the series is based. Perhaps it isn’t nice to compare the Peace Corps to prison, but I was really having trouble drumming up sympathy for Piper Kerman and her fifteen-month prison sentence. (I was like, “Oh, her family visits her in prison every week? I haven’t seen my family in months!”) Once I got over my own superiority complex, though, I enjoyed the book.
  • I watched The Shape of Water. Though I didn’t love it as much as Guillermo del Torro’s other fairtytale, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” I enjoyed it and think it is worth seeing.
  • I watched The Disaster Artist, and it was every bit as funny as the book. If you’re a fan of the cult movie “The Room,” you really should see this movie.

And finally, I crocheted this Hello Kitty toy from the book Whitney sent in my recent care package. Toys are so hard to make! I have a much easier time with scarves, headbands, and purses!

crochet hello kitty

Happy weekend! Talk to you Monday.

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