Rephrasing

Living in Hanoi feels normal and that’s weird.

Since February we’ve been completing another step, waiting for something to start. It’s all happening now. There’s a routine to follow. The things people carry on motorbikes aren’t shocking anymore.

And the work is real. I was prepared for a very steep learning curve. I am learning the ropes at a new job while teaching the ropes. Making the schedule. In charge of “quality control.” In 1000 ways this is new territory for me. In 1000 other ways I surprise myself. Years of art school critique prepared me for this. Growing up studying restorative practice and facilitation prepared me for this. Working for the New Day Campaign definitely prepared me for this.

I am learning lots.

And

I am stressed out of my mind.

Whenever I say that I try to rephrase. Switch “I am stressed out” to “I am watching the experience of stress.” I remember sitting with Shanti Mayi while she rephrased and rephrased and rephrased. Perhaps more than self-care this month is about the way I frame thoughts and words.

Self-Care Calendar

It’s so easy for me to get stuck I’m the story of “I’m so stressed out right now.” The prophecy fulfills itself. It’s so easy to connect with other people in complaining and gossip. I am working hard to talk about the experience of stress from the perspective of the watcher. Stress is something that happens. It’s not something I am.

Vipassana prepared me for this job more than anything. It’s taking everything I know about mindfulness to keep my head above water. My body caught up with my mind and I got sick after a few days of being quite identified with stress.

Since I work six days a week and have pretty limited vacation time I’ve decided to treat every morning like vacation. I’ve been going to the pool, taking yoga classes, reading Eckart Tolle on the deck, going for long walks, cooking good food, seeing friends… Every act of self-care is a tiny thank you note to myself. It’s about sustainability.

I would be incapable of doing this work well if I wasn’t taking care of my mind and body. No matter what intentions I chose for the rest of the year I want this spirit of deep self love and respect to be at the center of my motivation.