The three things I learned from going home.
As many of you know, I recently paid a two week visit to the United States to spend some time with my family and friends. I spent a part of my time with my Dad in San Luis Obispo, some time with my college friends in Santa Barbara, and the rest of the time in Sacramento with my Mom, family and high school friends. After 15 months of Paraguay, 12 months of it being in site, I had absolutely drained all my reserves of happiness, motivation, and excitement for the things I thought I loved. In the two weeks I was home, I re-charged all of these reserves, and really shed light to some of the emotions I have been experiencing- showing that they truly are just the temporary change in myself due to my work conditions rather than a giant change in myself and my values. It was incredible just to experience how much my friends, family were able to put the flame back in my heart. Of those two weeks here are the main points that I got out of it that I'd like to share with you all.
1. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVE
Now I have a hard time understanding how I ever got myself to a point in which I was consistently putting myself in situations where the love was not reciprocated, but somehow it happened. The past 7 months or so in site, I continuously did this to myself, I was holding on to relationships with Paraguayans where it was very much one sided, trying to mend relationships or prove myself to people who will never change their opinion on the American, and worrying to much about what the chisme was saying... that eventually I was so negatively focused on these things, that I didn't realize that of the few people who did love me was enough.
While I was back in California, I spent the short amount of time with the people who really make a difference in my life, and actively give love and who I love in return. Granted I didn't get to see everyone I care about, but not a single moment was spent doing something that I didn't love or that didn't make me happy. Just by doing this, I noticed a dramatic change in my self-confidence, and my goals/dreams seemed to re-surface from the dark silent part of my heart that they had been buried.
2. SIMPLIFY LIFE
The things that use to matter to me, or that I thought mattered to me really mean nothing now. From my opinion, our culture raises us to believe the great necessity of a steady job from 9 to 5, owning a house or a car, being financially stable in life, so much that we end up working ourselves so hard that at the end of the night, we are to tired to do the things we love. Well some may same it's not realistic, how I want to live life, but I'd rather simplify things, work less so that I can spend a quality life with the people I love and doing the things that I love to do. That means if I find a job that fulfills my happiness, but maybe not my wallet, that it is okay, and even preferred, as for me a life worth living is one with family, friends, good food, and being present in the moment. I really look forward to establishing this lifestyle within the American culture; as in Paraguay it is pretty easy as I don't really have any other choice.
3. EAT CLEAN, YOUR BODY IS A TEMPLE
I didn't realize how much my change of diet has impacted my body in the past 15 months in Paraguay. In the beginning I loathed the Paraguayan diet for how much it included meat and fried foods. However living on my own I have been able to cut out the fried food from my diet, and prepare almost all of my food at home from scratch. And the Paraguayan food that I have been eating has been 100% homemade, natural, organic cooking. Nearly all the vegetables that I eat come from either my garden, a families garden or within 10 k of where I am living. The meat is generally freshly butchered, and raised on a natural diet. So when I came back to the states all of these foods sounded so good in my mind, but the taste was at times toxic. The meat didn't seem natural, the vegetables were missing the natural crisp that comes from the garden freshly picked and the preservatives wreaked havoc in my stomach. If anything the past 15 months of living on the rural, homemade everything diet, has taught me even more the importance of eating organic local food. Local is really important because it really has an affect on the environment. To all those soy milk, tofu lovers, I advise to think twice of how that is affecting our environment; from first hand experience, I witness everyday the amount of deforestation is being done in Paraguay in order to support the demand of soy.
Living in another culture is truly thrilling, you really get to understand a country when you live there day to day, and the more I get to know people, the more I realize how similar we all are, chasing the same dream of some sort of love or happiness. Sure I have had one hell of a hard time this past year, but this year is going to be different. I finally have a grasp of things, I understand some of the people, and the things that I wasted my time worrying about, really just don't matter anymore. I plan to re-open myself up to my friends here so that I can learn even more about the Paraguayan culture so that I can share it with you all. My trip to the States really made a difference on my outlook as a Volunteer in Peace Corps and as a person; it's also confirmed that I definitely am more attracted to the idea of sooner than later going back home to start a life that I love.