After I returned from the Great Marathon Race to Laos, I noticed that I fell out of my routine. That is to say, I was starting to have one.

I think expats can easily sink into the quagmire pit of: drinking Chang beer at the Freedom Bar all day, sleeping until high noon, and slinking around markets communing with the rodents of unusually large sizes. Back in our passport countries we were programmed to get ready for work, drive to work, sit at work, drive back home, relax and do it all over again, saving the weekends for errands and cleaning house.

But WE decided to move. WE decided we wanted to live an exciting life. WE decided to get away from it all. Ye-ah.

Now all of the above still needs to happen but most of us are creating our own schedules abroad. And as more and more folks choose to get on the 4 hour work week bandwagon, we will have to tailor our lifestyles to fit our needs and this requires, that prickly word, self-discipline.

And this is a good thing. When you are away from the tribe you have to think independently. You have to choose differently. You have to be willing to make mistakes. It’s the Super Mario Brothers game of getting through each level, discovering shortcuts and gold coins and getting bit in the ass, from say a flower with teeth or an indecisive turtle.

Prior to Laos I was walking because I needed the exercise (if one more person tells me I’ve gained weight. . .) and it’s something I enjoy. Sure. But then I realized I completely forgot about walking as I was playing catch up with my life.

My writing has also taken a back bench seat in the Vientiane tuk tuk of routines. I am now channeling my inner zombie in front of the computer because I’m too tired to do anything else by the time I get home.

It’s important though to have structure and to reflect upon what takes priority and what doesn’t. The way my life is going, I might as well be back in the States. I’m falling into the same traps worker bees do when I should be the queen of my hive.

Once I realized I was starving my creative life (yesterday) I have decided to do something about it! Writing in the morning. No more checking email and getting on Faceybook or pretending I know how to use Twitter. Writing is top priority. Then it’s Thai class, lunch and a little break before I head to work. I have to walk either to Thai class or to teaching.

I know now that the evenings will have to be for inner zombie channeling and relaxing. I’m useless at night. Once I’m home I will not go back out. I know that. Unless it’s for a date. Ha, ha, ha. Gave myself a good hearty laugh there. A date!

I also want to do more reading. I feel like I read just bits here and there and I’m in the middle of so many books. That’s it, I’ll start to carry one of my books around too. (Is this whole new start/routine a Liz Lemon moment in the making?)

Lord Buddha help me.

7 replies on “Working with zombie energy, not against it

  1. Hi Lani, I'm a bit anal when it comes to routines. You could stick me in a sewage pit and I'm fairly confident that I'd develop a comfortable routine within a day or two. I would then probably get quite annoyed with people trying to help me out of the sewage pit and interrupting my new routine.


  2. Yeah, when you're in charge of your time, you've got to designate the importance of your activities. I work on several of my own websites as I've chosen to make them my source of income, so I treat it as my job. My friends still can't see it that way, they look at it like if I don't commute to a place of employment and work for someone else for a set number of hours, then I don't have a job and can do whatever I want. It's been an interesting observation.


  3. @Paul: I love it! I have to admit it's fun getting to know my fellow bloggers. It looks like you were born to be independent and a writer :)@Amy: Yeah I understand, when I decided to “work from home” and focus on my writing folks were like, Um so what do you do all day? Times are a-changin' though – sooner or later others will have to redefine what 'work' means.


  4. I would like for you to stop reading my mind, please and thank you! I just started work on Monday, and before that I realized that I must be the kind of person who actually needs a routine. I was spending my days trudging to Thai class, then sitting around in my underwear, eating potato chips and napping…and then I couldn't sleep at night. And now I'm working and I have to have a routine and…I kind of want my freedom back. Can. Not. Be. Happy. Hooray! See you soon!


  5. Lani, after years of being employed, self employed, raising kids and running a house, I was looking forward to our long stay here. I've always imposed a fairly strict schedule upon myself.I'm enjoying not having to do all of the above, but know that the 'holiday' feeling will wear off soon and without a routine I won't achieve what I set out to.You've just confirmed what I've been avoiding…to start getting 'real' about my work and my personal goals.


  6. Lani, some culling might be in order? Also, I used to rely heavily on my calendar alerts…without those annoying things flashing on my screen every few minutes, I would have let things slide by…or forget them.And Amy is right…those around you don't always see that you're 'working' when you do so from home…this used to be a major peeve/set back for me.Don't forget to have some fun along the way!!!!


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