Expat

What getting sick means to me

I pride myself on being a healthy person. I mean I’m not like obsessed about it but I know what I need to do to take care of myself and I do it because it feels good. And because I want to live a long life. And life is awesome so why not extend that awesomeness? But lately it seems I have been playing in Milton Bradley’s game Candy Land.
When I was working at a stressful private school (that I jokingly refer to as Trembling Trees in my other blog) I started smoking cigarettes again. Some teachers go home and have a class of wine. Or two. But I was the kind who raced home and lit that fag. I never smoked in public because the idea of one of my first or second graders seeing me was enough to send me to Jewish Catholic hell.
So what have I started to do again? Smoke. I was working weekdays, Saturdays AND Sundays with Thai classes sandwiched between slices of my seven grain sanity. I felt the time to do things I needed to do like exercise, read and write were being consistently pushed off the plate for bigger portions of study and work. In the new year I quit smoking and Sunday classes. In the new year I started smoking again again. Yes, I realize it is still January.
Barely keeping up with life is no way to live.
Originally I wanted to take Thai classes in the afternoon but since none were available I decided to give mornings a try. Essentially I was at AUA all day. I was running a split shift and “thankful” that I lived close enough to work so I could run home to do my very Thai two showers a day and maybe a quick email check.
I could use the holidays as an excuse (okay!) but it really just marked the time when I started to eat excessively. Classic, eh? I was stress eating and I didn’t even know it. I mean I knew I was eating like 9 years of famine were upon us but still I kept enjoying the pleasure of the gorge, glut and gobble.
The body is an amazing thing though and finally my body had enough. She said, “Okay girl. You want to keep doin this? Well, guess what. It’s goin to get U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi.” And so I got sick and not a lot or a little sick, just sick enough for it to be inconvenient. Sick enough to throw up wretchedly and feel the ill effects of eating poorly and excessively days after. (I don’t know when I’ll be able to eat an omelet again.)
I’m also not one of those busy types. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just some folks thrive on busyness and I don’t. It’s fun for maybe a few days and then I want everyone to go away. I need alone time, time alone. You know how some people get grouchy if they haven’t eaten in awhile, well I get the grumps when I’m around all y’all all the time. Vampires aren’t the only one with fangs.
You know, I didn’t come to Thailand to teach. I didn’t come to Thailand to work, work, work. I didn’t come to Thailand so I could have the same lifestyle that many North Americans enjoy. My friend reminded me to focus on my goals. This is the same friend who told me that I am entirely too impatient about learning Thai. He said I seem to want to know Thai right now. (Oh yeah, I quit Thai classes too. I got what is commonly known as TLLB or Thai Language Learning Burnout.)
So what are my goals in Thailand? The same that they would be anywhere else. My goals are to savor the sweet salt of food, to remember that noise is simply sound, and to see beyond my limited scope. To meditate, to pause, to write, write, write and then write some more. To read, stretch and curl up like a kitten.
I teach because it is a career that pays me to challenge my capacity to grow and learn. I’m in Thailand because, well, it’s fun and the zombies can’t catch me here. And once I realized I was motorbiking too carelessly through MY life, I had to shift gears. After all, I pride myself on being a happy person.
*Incidentally the folks at Bangkok Podcast talked about people’s misconceptions of working abroad.
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11 thoughts on “What getting sick means to me

  1. Lani, leaving Thai school must have been a hard decision for you to make, but in the end you really do have to do what makes you happy!So sorry to hear that you've been sick… but if there is one person here I know that can afford to over eat, it's you.Lunch soon? 😉

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  2. Hi Lani, I've found that sometimes changes need to be made that aren't easy. I've just stopped my Muay Thai lessons on Saturdays because it is just not practical; it means losing more than half a day of work by the time I get there and get back. I do plan to fit the classes back in at a more convenient time, but making the changes is tough. When I'm not doing the things I need to do to stay healthy I get sick too.

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  3. I read this interesting article on one of my favorite sites: http://litemind.com/sunk-cost-bias/He basically talks about how we stick with things that we think we should because we've invested all this time into it but how sometimes it is best to “quit”.Seth Godin also talks about this concept and I hope our definition of “quitting” changes because sometimes it is healthier to just stop and say no more.

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  4. Lani – A smoke a day keeps stress at bay you've just got to eat an apple after it.Stepping off the gas and breathing in the fumes is something we all need to do at some stage of our lives.Enjoy the moment, just don't make it 40 times a day.

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  5. @Martyn: Nice one. Took me a moment to realize what you were referring to. I'm SUPER smart can't you tell?Actually I quit (again). So ha! Had to. Developed a fricken rash on my chest. So have one for me.I have CM fumes to inhale. . .

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  6. Lani, I'm so very glad you got sick because I couldn't imagine you smoking.So, how's that for being supportive? :-DAs for quitting Thai, I do it all the time. I figure in about 2 years I'll be where I should have been a year ago. And I'm ok with that because I have other priorities shoving my studies out of the way. Sleep, for starters. I like sleep.

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  7. Oh Cat. You are so sweet! Ug. I really needed to just quit. Who ever said smoking is a filthy habit was a smoker, ex-smoker or living with a smoker.Yeah, the Thai language learning saga continues. . .I like sleep too. And hey since I stopped Thai class I'm sleeping better. Hmmmmm.

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  8. I don't smoke, but I know how hard it is to quit. Good luck–you can do it!Also, it's amazing how sometimes we are at the exact same spot in our lives–I've been thinking how I didn't quit my job back home to have a job I don't like here…not sure what to do right now. Sigh.

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  9. Lani, I have been making similar changes lately…you just can't do anything and health is very important.I just quit smoking again today…well, I ran out of smokes so who knows what will happen when I walk past 7/11 later. But I am eating healthier and walking about 4 miles or more a day.Unfortunately you have been misled by people…Zombies do exist in Thailand and they want to eat your bre9s and your Som Tam.

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  10. @Megan: I'm not sure amazing is the right word 😛 more like annoying!!! But seriously, ever since the ahem, rash, I haven't smoked. Thanks for the vote of confidence!Sounds like we need to have a chat. What is going on??? I'll have my people contact your people via gmail.@Talen: Uggg! I don't want to be around smokers! So better still be off the L&M when you are in CM!!!By the by, what is a bre9s? And they cannot touch my som tam. No, no, no! No touchie.

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